How to get ebooks for free

Last week, I told you about Whichbook, a site to help you find new books to read in my post Looking for a new book?.  This week I will introduce you to Scribd, a document sharing site where you can find many ebooks.

Scribd is a social network for books.  Instead of statuses and pictures you share books, magazines and documents.  You can upload your own work, or read what others have uploaded.  It’s not only individuals using Scribd either, big companies like CBSSimon & Schuster and The New York Times upload content too. You can find everything from business presentations to popular novels, and then share what you’re reading with your friends on Scribd, Facebook and Twitter.  You can even embed your documents in your sites on Blogger and WordPress.

All you have to do to get started is create an account.  If you choose to log in with your Facebook account, Scribd will automatically connect you to any of your Facebook friends that are on Scribd.  If you don’t want to connect it to your Facebook, there is also an option to create an account with your email address.

With your account you can create collections where you can store your documents or the documents you find.  There are three different types of collections:

1.  “Public-moderated” meaning anyone can see your collection, and people can add documents with your permission.

2.  “Public-locked” means anyone can view your collection but only you can add documents.

3.  “Private” means only you can view and add documents to your collection.

Another great thing about Scribd is that you can get documents that are compatible with a variety of devices.  Not only can you access documents online, you can also download them as pdf or txt files and send them to any of  your various mobile devices.

I won’t guarantee that you will be able to find every author or book you search for, but if you are willing to be flexible you should be able to find something you will like on Scribd.

New words are a dying breed

According to The Guardian, new research has been done that analyzes the more than 10 million words used between 1800 and 2008.

The scientists say that words are constantly in competition with each other and the use of spell check and strict editing has cut down on the number of misspelled and nonsensical words that lead to the creation of genuinely new words.  It is the loss of these types of words that have led to the greatest change in vocabulary over the last 10-20 years.

Words created by errors are not the only words that are dying out.  Synonyms are fighting for dominance as well.  The story gives the example of Roentgenogram and radiogram, both of which have been soundly beaten by x-ray.

During their research, the scientists found that wars significantly increased the number of new words to be assimilated into a language. According to the researchers,”‘This can be understood as manifesting from the unification of public consciousness that creates fertile breeding ground for new topics and ideas.'”

The scientists concluded that historical events have a great impact on the birth of new words, but things like spell check are putting limitations on that creation.

Read the full story, Study reveals words’ Darwinian struggle for survival by Alison Flood.

New Recommendation

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan

Percy is a normal kid, who suddenly finds out he’s not normal.  In fact, he’s a demigod with Poseidon as his dad.  Sadly, because of this relation, when Zeus’s master thunderbolt goes missing, Percy is blamed. Adventure ensues as Percy, Grover and Annabeth go in search of the bolt. (It is also #1 in a seriec of 5, followed now by the spinoff Heroes of Olympus.)

Recommended by Ann Jennings.

You’ve got it, now use it.

As an English major, you have a pretty wide set of skills.  You can analyze text, argue effectively, think creatively, research well and write clearly and consicely among other things.  All in all if you decide not to pursue a career in academia you ohave a wide variety of skills to market to potential employers.

Here is a list of the most commonly suggested fields for English majors to go into after graduation.

Technical Writer

Technical writers have to be good with the english language and details. They must also be able to break down complicated topics and concepts so they can be easily understood.


Librarians need to be able to direct patrons to the material they are looking for as well as make recommendations.  They also need a good grasp of literature and to be able to research and analyze data.


English majors make a study of the English language making them well aquointed with word usage, sentance structure and grammar making them ideal for making sure that writing is ready for public consumption.

Paralegal/Legal assistant/Lawyer

Writing, research and being able to argue a point are all skills necessary in the legal profession as well as the English major.  Having good grammar skills doesn’t hurrt either.


Depending on the laws where you live, a degree in English may be all you need.  It can also be a good building block for a masters in Education.

Information compiled from PayScale, Hub Pages and CareerRookie.

Activate your mind, read a novel

The New York Times recently published a story about some neurological research that has been done lately on the effects reading has on our brains.  It seems that the discriptive nature of fiction writing activates alot more areas of the brain than reading your average Facebook post.

For example, when you are reading words that describe a smell, like lavender, not only is the part of your brain that handles reading and language active, but the areas controlling smell are active too.  The same goes for actions.  Reading about throwing a ball activates different areas than readign about kicking one, just like performing those actions usees different parts of the brain.

It’s not jsut your senses and actions that have these effects either, social interaction within the story is also connected to the part of your brain that controls real life social interaction.  There is even research showing that people who read alot of fiction are better at understanding and empathizing with others.

For more details, read the article Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul.

Looking for a new book?

Finding a new book can be a hard thing to do, especially when you only have a general idea of what kind of book you’re looking for.  Naturally, I would first suggest going to the Books page.  However, if that doesn’t yield the kind of results you are looking for, there is another place you can look called Whichbook.

Whichbook is a site, created by Opening the Book Ltd,  that “enables you to search for a book that up to now may only have existed in your own mind.”  Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign in. It isn’t necessary to sign in to use Whichbook. In fact, you may want to play with it first, but if you plan to use it often it may be a good idea.  You can choose to sign in via Facebook or using an email address, again it depends on your preference.
  2. Select what four factors you want to base your search on (humor, violence, predictability, sex, etc.).
  3. Use the sliders to choose where on the range of each factor you like your books to fall (Expected-Unpredictable, Gentle-Violent, Funny-Serious, etc.).
  4. Select “GO” and the site generates a list of titles that match your preferences and ranks them “Best Matches,” “Good Matches” and “Fair Matches.”
  5. From there you can read a short extract, see each book’s profile (where they stand on the scale for each factor), see parallel books ( books with the same profile), share the book on Facebook or through email or find similar books.

If that doesn’t yield the kinds of books you’re looking for you can either alter the factors you chose, find new ones or search for books based on the characteristics of the characters or plot or based in a specific setting.  They even have an author list so you can find books you know you like, click “Find Similar” and see similar titles that way.

Whichbook has also created a  few ready-made lists for its users as well as giving you the options to create your own to which you can add any books you find on their site.  If you want to share that list with Whichbook users you can even ask to add your list to their Guest Lists.

Each book’s profile also includes “Borrow” and “Buy” buttons.  Unfortunately, the “Borrow” button links you to the UK’s library system so it isn’t much use here in the States.  The “Buy” however, links you to the book listing on Amazon and is much more useful.

So if you’re looking for a new book, give Whichbook a try.  If you like what you find share it with us on the Books page.

Total of English major gratuates holds steady

The number of students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree has stayed around 50,000 for the last two decades. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Digest of Education Statistics: 2010, there were 55,462 of a total 1,601,369 Bachelor’s degrees awarded by “degree-granting institutions in the 2008-2009 school year to graduates studying English language and literature.

The study’s first recorded numbers come from the 1970-71 shcool year in which 63,914 Bachelor’s degrees were conferred.  That number dropped to 41,452 degrees in 1975-76 and again to 31,922 degrees in 1980-81.  However, by the 1990-91 school year 51,064 English language and literature degrees were beign awarded (Table 282).

Out of a total 656,784 Master’s degrees awarded in the 2008-2009 school year, 9,261 were in English language and literature (Table 283). In the same year, 1,580 doctorates were awarded (Table 284).